Fans of Capcom games have been privy to the company’s re-releases of fan-loved franchises. The Resident Evil series is one of said franchises. Capcom has re-released Resident Evil games before. This time, we focus on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network versions of Resident Evil: Code Veronica X HD. The original release of this game was on Sega’s legendary Dreamcast back in 2000. A year later saw a “Complete Version” of the game dubbed Resident Evil: Code Veronica X on the Dreamcast and Sony’s PlayStation 2. This version was then ported to Nintendo’s GameCube in 2003. The “X” version features updated and additional cutscenes properly placed into the original game as well as minor graphical improvements. For me, it was the first Resident Evil game I played myself to completion since I could actually tolerate the controls and camera views used in game, due in large parts to the graphical leaps it had over its predecessors and the excellent story and pacing of the game. Resident Evil 1 – 3 had controls and camera views that made me not even want to play the game. The horrible voice acting and script writing did not help either. What always kept me interest in the Resident Evil franchise was the deep and alluring story. I watched friends play the first three games. Of course, I eventually would play through them myself due to the re-releases on the GameCube and wanting to see how things lined up with the prequel, Resident Evil: Zero. Code Veronica is one of my favourite entries to the franchise. Is this still true? Has the game aged like a fine wine, or like a once-good rotten piece of fruit?
There are indeed signs of rust on this trophy entry to the series. Capcom did nothing to remove it either. The controls were barely tolerable when the game originally launched. Now, they are plain torture. The advances other games have made in controls and button layouts have spoiled me, perhaps. Going back to play this game was a challenge – no, it was a chore due to the frustratingly archaic controls. You would think that Capcom would include an option for gamers to play with controls more in line with games of the current era, or even Resident Evil games of the current era. The game just feels clunky. Even the graphics during cutscenes look bad since they were not touched up at all. The audio is both good and bad. The music fits the game’s genre and direction well. It does a great job of establishing tone and mood. The audio falls apart when gamers hear the horrid sound effects. They sound almost as dated as the controls feel. Keeping in true early Resident Evil form, the voice acting ranges from laughably bad to excruciatingly painfully bad. They really break the mood that the graphics do a very solid job of establishing.
In fact, I am not sure how they got away putting the “HD” label on this game. None of the cutscenes are HD. The real-time gameplay graphics however have been touched up. It just really breaks the continuity of the game when cutscenes pop up and look horrid in comparison to gameplay. It is usually the other way around, especially in Resident Evil’s history. The character models, game environments, and lighting have all been substantially improved. Actually, the lighting aids in creating creepy situations in hallways with windows. The great story and character development and interaction are still present and have aged quite well. The story is unchanged from the original release. It takes place after Resident Evil 2 and follows the actions of Chris and Claire. Chris has not hulked up to his Resident Evil 5 physique yet.
The main issue with Code Veronica HD is that it aims to address issues that were never issues with the game while ignoring the actual problems. Graphics for this game were never a complaint fans had. While you clearly had to improve them in a re-release, how do you overlook the controls? The very same controls that were and source of hate and complaint even when the game was originally released remain, yet the graphics that were marvelled as the best of its time had to be updated. That is extremely illogical. How did no one at Capcom think that perhaps there should be a new control scheme added that makes the interactions less of a fun-zapper? Ideally, both would be improved. If I had to pick one, and I am one hundred percent positive that gamers and Resident Evil fans alike will back me on this, I would pick the controls be upgraded over the graphics. The game falls apart when you have to engage more than one enemy. It degrades so far, even the added auto-aim feature can not redeem it.
For 1600 Microsoft Points ($20 US on PSN), gamers would and should expect a lot from a re-release of a classic game. Resident Evil faithfuls will get this game and power through all the cons while focusing on the pros. I assume Capcom realized this and made this with them in mind. For those who never played Resident Evil: Code Veronica and wanted to finally try it, things are not so good. This version is superior to the older versions, so players should play this by default. The problem is the time they are playing the game. Playing this game now for the first time, after playing so many other games of the genre and perspective will ruin their experience. Heck, if these gamers have played any console Resident Evil games that came out after Code Veronica, they experience will be ruined. Capcom could have easily remedied this with an additional control scheme. Still, there is tons of good in this game. As I said about myself earlier on, the biggest draw of Resident Evil is the plot. This game’s plot really stands out in the series over all, and aids in the overall continuity. Thus, if you are a Resident Evil fan who never played Code Veronica, or a loyal Resident Evil fan period, this game is for you.